Researchers from FibroGenesis (TX, USA) have shown that PneumoBlast™, a fibroblast-based cell therapy, has significant efficacy when used in treating mice with lung inflammation that resembles COVID-19. Furthermore, the team observed a reduction from infiltration of inflammatory cells and suppression of chemical mediators, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6), which are associated with poor survival in COVID-19 patients.
The team stimulated the immune systems of mice to enter hyper-activation mode, which causes symptoms similar to COVID-19. Once COVID-19 stimulation occurred, the mice were administered PneumoBlast, which caused a significant reduction in lung fluid accumulation.
The research group ran another set of experiments with two groups of mice: control-untreated mice and lipopolysaccharide-treated mice. Control-untreated mice had a lung wet weight to body weight ratio (LWW/BW) of 3.7 mg/g. Mice treated with lipopolysaccharide, an agent that induces COVID-19-like lung inflammation, had a LWW/BW ratio of 12.5 mg/g.
The lipopolysaccharide-treated mice were then administered bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs), which were found to reduce the LWW/BW ratio to 9.9 mg/g, whilst administration of PneumoBlast to lipopolysaccharide-treated mice significantly reduced the LWW/BW ratio to 5.2 mg/g. PneumoBlast showed a 37% improvement in outcome compared to BMMSCs.
Additionally, treatment with PneumoBlast returned average LWW/BW ratios to baseline control numbers of healthy lungs. There was no statistical difference between recovered lungs and normal/healthy lungs.
“This preliminary data is compelling and urgently needs to be translated into clinical trials,” explained Tom Ichim, FibroGenesis. “Our studies showed PneumoBlast therapy significantly outperformed BMMSCs in all parameters tested. We have previously obtained FDA IND Clearance #18151, for using similar cells to treat degenerative disc disease. Given the promising efficacy data, combined with existing human safety data, I strongly believe PneumoBlast may offer new hope to patients suffering from COVID-19 associated lung disease.”
The team also assessed the lung inflammation marker, IL-6, and found that the administration of PneumoBlast resulted in a reduction of inflammation back to healthy control lung levels in 24 hours.
“We are excited about this positive outcome and the ability to dramatically reduce fluid accumulation in the lungs,” said Pete O’Heeron, FibroGenesis. “Once again, compared to stem cells, fibroblasts appear to be a more robust and potent cell source. These data also suggest PneumoBlast may possess activity not only related to suppressing inflammation and fluid accumulation, but also to regenerating damage the COVID-19 virus causes to lungs. This is the best result we could have hoped for.”